We are very happy to announce that Sr M Cathy will make first Profession early in the New Year.

The following is a reflection given at our community meeting at which she was accepted for first Profession.

It is a happy co-incidence that we have gathered to vote on accepting you, Sr M Cathy, for profession, on the eve of the beautiful feast of Christ the Universal King during this special Year of Faith as we continue our novena of years to the 800th anniversary of the Order in 1216.  The coming year beginning on the first Sunday of Advent is dedicated to ‘Mary: Contemplation and Preaching the Word’ – ‘Do unto me according to your Word’ – a very fitting theme for the year when you will make your profession.

Pope Benedict continually reminds us that faith is neither a philosophy of life, nor a moral code nor a set of dogmas to be believed.  Rather faith is a dynamic and life-giving encounter with the living God – the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit – who invites us into a relationship with Him.  The Son of God, the Word, through Whom we and all creation have come into existence, has come among us in the Person of Jesus Christ – He has revealed the Father to us and continues to walk with us through the wilderness of this life as we journey to our homeland in heaven – ‘Lo, I am with you always’.  “Faith is a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, making oneself his disciple.”

Religious Profession is basically an act of radical faith in the One who invites us to intimacy with Himself – it is like signing a blank cheque with all the risks which this involves.  We do not know what lies in the future but we can be certain that the One who calls us is always faithful and will not allow us to be tempted beyond our strength.  We can be certain that He will be at our side and provide for all our needs as the refrain to Psalm 22 says: ‘His goodness shall follow me always – to the end of my days.’

In proclaiming the Year of Faith, Benedict XVI wrote that: “we enter the ‘door of faith’ when the ‘heart allows itself to be shaped and transformed by grace.” And again he says: “To enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime” – a journey which begins at Baptism and continues until we at last find rest in the heart of the Trinity.  This journey of faith leads us through the wilderness of this life to the joys of heaven; it is a journey from slavery to sin and selfishness to the freedom of the children of God.  Through our profession we freely commit ourselves to take on a way of life according to our Constitutions – to an outsider this may appear that we are taking on burdensome rules and regulations but we know that if we respond generously and faithfully while lovingly keeping our gaze fixed on the One “who loves us and has washed away our sins with his blood” (Rev 1:6) we are setting out on a path to true freedom. 

In his homily at the shrine of Loreto before the opening of the Year of Faith Pope Benedict spoke about this true liberty in relation to Mary’s complete ‘yes’ to her God:

“As we contemplate Mary we must ask if we too wish to be open to the Lord, if we wish to offer our life as his dwelling place; or if we are afraid that the presence of God may somehow place limits on our freedom, or if we wish to set aside a part of our life in such a way that it belongs only to us.  Yet it is precisely God who liberates our liberty, he frees it from being closed in on itself, from the thirst for power, possessions, and dominations; he opens it up to the dimension which completely fulfils it: the gift of self, of love which in turn becomes service and sharing.” (4th Oct 12)

The heart of our contemplative life is to bear witness to the reality of God; to be present to the Presence; listening to the voice of the Beloved (all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice – Gospel tomorrow – Jh 18); allowing ourselves to be transformed into Christ, sharing in his priesthood (second reading) as He takes us into himself and offers us to the Father for the salvation of the world.

To quote Pope Benedict again:

“Faith commits every one of us to become a living sign of the presence of the Risen Lord in the world. What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end.” (PF 15)

The Greek word for witness is the same as that for martyr.  We may or may not ever suffer personally for our love of Jesus Christ but we’re all called to be witnesses – we are all called to martyrdom.

Let us all join with Sr M Cathy in preparing for her Profession day by renewing our own fidelity to our contemplative way of life during the coming weeks.